Memoirs of a Mummy

Toddler Discipline: It’s Complicated

In a few weeks, we will finally be saying good bye to the terrible two’s. I can’t wait to say good bye to picky eating, selective deafness, fake cries and uncooperation. Don’t get me wrong. I love Aki to the moon and back. However, he goes from being the apple of my eye to being a pebble in my shoe in a snap. I love him every minute every second of the day but there is these 15 minutes where all I just want to be away from Franco’s crying and demanding son.

Let me take minute or two to document what worked for us during the terrible twos.

1. Saying what I mean the first time I say it. I wish I learned about this earlier. The longer the time frame between the warning and consequence, the more ineffective warnings become. I learned this from Elizabeth Pantley. The first time I consciously tried to use this technique was when Aki was glued to the TV in my in-laws house. I told him it is time to go but he was ignoring me. I told him that I am leaving after 10 seconds. Instead of saying Iiwan na kita (I am going to leave you) 20 times like I used to, I did what I said I would do and left him there. On my walk home,  I kept looking back, hoping to see or hear a crying toddler running after me. I got home but still no sign of Aki. This may sound bad but I let out a big sigh of relief when he finally came home crying.

It is actually easier said than done. Once, when I was working on our weekly menu, Aki picked up my cookbooks and threw them on the floor. I told him that if he won’t   pick up the books, I won’t take him to the grocery with me. He didn’t do what I said so even if it broke my heart to see him begging to go with me, I left him.


In this picture Aki is sleeping without a pillow. I told him that if  he still won’t let me brush his teeth  after I count to 10, he will not have any pillow that night. My boy only cooperated after the countdown. I so wanted to share my pillow with him that night but I had to stick to my word.

2. Counting.  This works , although not all the time, when I want Aki to stop doing something and do something else. For example, after bath time, instead of saying, “Time to get dressed now”, I say “You have 10 seconds and then it is time to say good bye to the water. 10, 9 ..”  Or “You can play with that for 10 more seconds but after playing  you have to pack away. 10, 9.” I am still surprised whenever this technique works. Sometimes, Aki thinks it is a game and wraps things up even before I finish counting. I can’t remember where I read that kids need time to transition from one activity to another but to who ever wrote that, Thank you! The more I use this, the more it becomes effective.

3. Giving  time outs. For Aki, I escort him out of the house. Of course I make sure the gate is locked and I secretly watch him.

Toys get time-outs too. When Aki uses his toys or art materials inappropriately, I confiscate them.

Here, Aki wipes the doodles he made on the floor after his crayons went on time-out.

4. Being consistent. Related to number one. For the habits and routines that are important to us, the follow thru is a must even if I am tired and in no mood for battle. We used to fight all the time because Aki just won’t let us brush his teeth.  After Thomas helped me brush his teeth, I implemented a new rule. We will only go to the room after he let me brush his teeth. The rule was later revised and become, pack away first before we go to the room and toothbrush first before we sleep. Did miracles happen overnight? Definitely no!  My consistency is rewarded because Aki is much much more cooperative now. He packs away on his own and even asks for his toothbrush when he is sleepy.

Sometime Aki says “I bad boy”. I am quick to correct him and say ” No, Aki. You are a good boy who sometimes forgets how to be good”.  For me, what makes disciplining toddlers challenging is the balance part. I want my child to happy but I can’t give him or let him do everything that makes him happy. I have to make sure that he knows the rules and follows them but I also don’t want to break his spirit.

I guess I am doing something right because yesterday the first thing he said as soon as he opened his eyes was, “Mommy, I so love”. Aki, I so love you back. I am sure there will be more crying and arguments to come. I just hope that all the tears, yours and mine, in the end, will make you a happy, well-rounded and resilient individual.

16 thoughts on “Toddler Discipline: It’s Complicated

  1. i feel or you sis. my son, Zephyr which is now 2 years and 3 months old is soooo not cooperative. it hard for me to ask him to do something. but i learned a lot from this entry. instead of saying what you will do, do it right away.

    aki is sooo big na. its been a year since i checked your blog again. i was a fan! 🙂

  2. Keep up the fight. You have to show him proper hygiene. And children who are playing outside daily or have recess usually are sweating and need to shower daily. My daughter had issues with brushing and showering and really I told her her friends won’t like her with stinky breathe and dirty cause she didn’t bathe. You probably can set a time to shower at night and make sure he brushes in the morning. Kids don’t know how important it is to brush and bathe and he’ll understand later.

  3. I feel your sentiments. Disciplining is necessary but painful for parents. It’s the only way kids will learn distinguishing bad from good. I gave time-outs to when my boys were younger.

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  4. Hi Maqui,

    I’ve been reading through your blog posts for quite some time now and I find what you have been writing very insightful especially the ones relating to parenting and home-making. Thank you for shaing your thoughts and tips.

    I am a mother to a 6 month old boy and can even as early as now I read up a lot on how to discipline and raise him. I agree with what you said about correcting their behavior or calling their attention but not breaking their spirit. Its such a fine line to balance.

    I hope that I can actually meet you in person, I would love to have chats with you about parenting. 🙂

    Please do continue to post your ideas and share your mommy life – I am learning a lot from them! 🙂

    God Bless you and your family!

  5. This is a very nice and helpful article Maqui. I’m bookmarking this when we reach the Terrible Two’s! Thank you for always coming up with helpful tips. I cooked some of your recipes last weekend. Fish provencal was a hit (for me and me alone!) Hahaha.

  6. Hi Maqui! Unfortunately, it doesn’t end in terrible two’s hehe. Three’s already know how to reason out. Then may acting skills pa rin. Ang hirap talaga mag discipline noh? Ayaw nating magalit but we have to be firm and be consistent sa rules. But, nakakalambot ng puso kapag they acknowledge na mali ginawa nila and says sorry and I love you 🙂

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